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Australia’s 4G network is faster than 5G: study (thenewdaily.com.au)
155 points by gscott 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 153 comments



Amazingly the article refrains from providing any numbers for Australia. From the original report:

- 5G: 792mbps

- 4G: 950mbps

https://www.opensignal.com/blog/2019/07/08/5g-boosts-the-max...


In my experience, you never get that outside of the town centre. 10mbps cap in the suburb on 4G.

Anyway, this doesn't really highlight how good our 4G is, it highlights how poor our interconnected fibre network is. It's a bloody multi-generational disaster, a train wreck salvaged. And the price of it all lands on the consumers.

For example, I'm on cable, and life is good. When I get migrated (by force) to fibre, I will have less bandwidth and pay more. It's also wildly known at the moment to have constant drop outs. YAY the future.

And remote areas are put on Satellite, they were never going to run fibre to the home.


You won't go onto FTTP, they will use the Telstra HFC cable and you just get a different modem. Most of the drop-out problems I think are fixed.

The less bandwidth and paying more are only due to stupid pricing models from the infrastructure provider (NBN), for anybody who isn't familiar with the system. There's no technical reason for it in 60% of the country. They could upgrade anybody in the FTTP footprint to gigabit this afternoon and anybody in the HFC footprint to at least 250 or 300Mbps but are limiting everybody mostly to 100Mbps (but most people are on lower speeds) just because they want to gouge providers for bandwidth. The artificial limitations created by these pricing models also mean that a lot of providers skimp on buying the necessary bandwidth, so for most providers (there are only a few good ones) there are unnecessary slow-downs at peak times as the artificially limited bandwidth gets congested. It's madness!

The rest is unfortunately served by satellite, FTTN or FTTC that aren't able to deliver the speeds, or for the fixed wireless footprint it is also limited, but to a large degree only because the LNP government shelved the planned backhaul upgrades to save some money, so there are all these wireless towers that are served by low-speed microwave backhaul. The plan had been to upgrade any tower to fibre backhaul once the microwave backhaul reached a certain level of utilisation, before it was fully congested. That now doesn't happen, so those users just have to deal with speeds dropping significantly at peak times.


After 5 years of rock solid Telstra HFC, I'm now on NBN HFC (same wire) and it has been unreliable as fu__. Right this very moment I'm currently getting ongoing 40% packet loss to the first hop, probably because it's raining.


I'm in an apartment tower which is vendor locked to Internode (IINet/TPG aren't even available).

I'm fortunate that the connection is 100/40/unlimited for $60 AUD, but it still annoys me that I have _no_ options to obtain a static IP whatsoever.


It's not as good as a static IP but you can look into DynDNS providers to have a static way to access your machines from outside. Almost every provider has a free option and it's very easy to setup.


About 2 months ago I was staying at a friends place that had HFC NBN and it would drop out at least once a week.


The NBN in its post 2013 form is a disaster but I'm not aware of any areas that are still being migrated from HFC to fibre by them. Are you sure this is the case? If you have HFC you will likely stay on HFC, but you will indeed have your bandwidth downgraded and price increased. Thanks Liberal Party.

Regardless, it's not really relevant to an article about 4G vs 5G - they are separate fibre networks I believe?


HFC Still better than FTTN (VDSL) with most of the HFC network supporting DOCSIS 3.1 supporting speeds of 10Gbit


It depends where you are. I just did a speed test in the suburbs on a Telstra reseller and got 118MBit, which IME is par for the course around Perth and suburbs.

That speed is just double the maximum line speed of my FTTN NBN connection at the same property (but I keep it anyway as household data usage on 4G is uneconomical).


Uneconomical because 4G doesn't compete in price for data allowances, once you are using more than 50 GB or so per month?

At a constant 118 MBit/s I calculate that you'd go through over 50 GB per hour, so the usefulness is limited.


I pay US$55 a month for unlimited data @ 50Mbit on my fibre/copper line, and US$100 per year for 80GB per year on my 4G mobile (there are other options up to about US$70/m for 150GB/m but no unshaped & unlimited data option.)

I suspect that part of the reason that 4G is so good in Australia is that data allowances are relatively small which limits congestion.


its not just remote areas going on satellite now. The NBN is in a rush to get it finished by mid next year so they are now moving suburbs on to satellite. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-11/powderfinger-star-off...


Australia has the Telstra "4GX" and Optus "4G plus" networks - it's AU 4G with its own spectrum and band aggregation.

I have seen gigabit speeds on 4GX - once, when it was new and the spectrum was hardly used.

Since the reports are quoting real world maximums, I'm sure that number is true - but doesn't reflect your average experience.


IIRC the largest ISP in Australia is Vodafone who provide more mobile IP connectivity than anyone else. (Source: Personal discussion with senior management, ~5? years ago)


Whoever told you that was being very liberal with the truth, Vodafone has always been #3 in the Australian mobile market since they started, they were hemorrhaging subscriptions for most of this decade due to underinvestment (known as "Vodafail").

They only started providing wireline services very recently, one of the few "western" markets they were not a full telco player in.


The discussion was around mobile IP connections. I am not sure if your calculation includes for example (just guessing!) other mobile carrier branded services using their network (MNVO[0]), non consumer (eg. IOT type or vehicular) mobile nodes, etc. I would trust this person implicitly as I used to work for them, they are an engineer not a salesperson and they are not known to extend the truth. While no information is infallible and perhaps they were wrong, given their position, however, I doubt it.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_mobile_virt...

Edit: Seems my info was bad. Disappointing! Latest stats page 9 @ http://clients3.weblink.com.au/pdf/HTA/02127798.pdf and page 31 @ https://www.acma.gov.au/-/media/Research-and-Analysis/Report... They are indeed third (last!), though currently the fastest growing. Their MNVO base = 350K customers, total = just under 6M customers. Guess it shows how long I've been outta dodge :)


I can't see this being true for IoT/M2M either, sorry. There are a couple of small MVNOs on Vodafone but nothing that would bridge the gap between them and the other players.

_Maybe_ they have a good share of multinational contracts from their parent company, that is the only area I can see this statement being true.

Vodafone are doing some work with NB-IoT but the general market for this are metro utility companies - the coverage doesn't exist out of these areas to be taken seriously for a nationwide fleet.

I would put good money on the number of payment card terminals and power meters alone on Telstra being bigger than Vodafone AU's entire M2M business.


As sibling commented, Voda is distant third in Australia. The incumbent is Telstra, with ~50% mobile share and was the dominant fixed provider pre-NBN.

Telstra's mobile footprint is vastly superior to the other two MNOs in terms of geographic coverage.


Well I don't know about faster than 5G, but for my rural location it's a lifesaver. I get a steady 60Mbps down, 12-15 up, which is just a tad better than my previous 0.3Mbps ADSL. It's kind of amazing and is literally what enables me to live where I do (ie. for remote work).

4g here is also far better than the shithouse fake NBN foisted on us by our far-right government, which loathes and fears any technology more recent than coal & witch burning.


Good post until the last sentence! NBN history is far more interesting than that!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Broadband_Network


I have to say that it's interesting in the way that watching something be destroyed is interesting.

Being stuck inside it is not interesting, it's horrifying and depressing.

I moved into an apartment that was built with NBN Fibre to every apartment. I moved here and paid a premium for it because I wanted to get a head-start on the FTTH rollout we were promised.

Instead of the promised ability to move just about anywhere and get the same connection quality and bandwidth options, we now have a roulette wheel where most of the options are mediocre at best.

Worse still, we paid even more for this bungled mix of copper based tech than the original FTTH rollout.


Fiber would never be available in every home, it would have always been limited to new estates and inner city areas, which funnily enough is no change over how things were before the nbn. Before the nbn, new estates were supplied with private fiber. Now they get nbn, which will be sold in the future and be private again.... all that changed was billions of dollars were stolen by the political class.


Fibre was going to be rolled out to 93% of the population - so very remote people would have been on satellie but that would have been it.


No, that was their made up promise to fool people who couldn't research the logistics themselves, that is not what was going to happen. Name another country in the entire world where this has happened with similar population density. You can't, because no such country exists. If that actually happened, and it was completed today, Australia would have the world's fastest internet, ahead of all of the countries with extremely dense population such as Taiwan. Such an idea is absurd, but people on the left will never admit it and just claim that is was obviously going to happen.


Arrant nonsense. It was a specific plan, budgeted for, with people in government and industry I knew at the time working on it. Even bloody Malcolm Turnbull was bullish about it (he was on the board of a company I worked for in Brisbane) until he turned. It was going to happen but was scotched for purely political reasons by a party that had always opposed public provision.

Big projects, govenment & commercial alike often fail. The real NBN certainly might have. But to make up out of a complete vacuum that it was some sort of deliberate con is just another barmy conspiracy theory.


>It was a specific plan, budgeted for I like how you call what I said "arrant nonsense". Such a harsh response must have been followed up by some irrefutable facts for justification. Instead, your argument is "it was budgeted for". This level of nativity is complete lack of knowledge of planning and budgeting and forecasting models shouldn't be coupled with your big boy harsh words.

Lets see, Kevin Rudd said it would cost $15 billion. The total cost at the moment seems to be $51 billion. So your conspiracy theory is that the crappier NBN we got which required less work cost $36 billion more than the one you are saying was budgeted for?


First, can I ask why you're creating multiple new accounts to comment? It seems very odd.

> Kevin Rudd said it would cost $15 billion.

The first 90% fibre plan was $43b, later revised down to $37.4b of which it was supposed to be $30b of investment from the Federal government. [0]

About $12b of that was in payments to Telstra ($11b) and Optus ($800m) in return for access to lead-in and last-mile conduits/pits, and decommissioning of HFC networks.

That original business plan was revised later after a KPMG study to recommend ~93% fibre, ~4% fixed wireless (LTE variant), and the remaining ~2-3% on two dedicated satellites (new launches).

(Edited to add: Note that this plan included an eventual ROI, where the government would get it's money back - and hence it be zero/low cost. The current plan has no hope of that happening short of selling the entire thing off to Telstra.)

FTTH installations were budgeted at $1500/residence to install, which by the time the Abbott government was coming into power was actually trending closer to $1200 as the workforce was trained up in deploying the gear and became more experienced in dealing with any odd situations.

There is/was a fantastic video of a talk given by someone from NBNCo (I believe Mike Quigly?) at a University where they go over the architectural design decisions, and how the 93% number was arrived at. The video also went over in detail how the fixed-wireless process was to work.

Arguments that remediating conduit and installing new copper is either cheaper or less work to install aren't backed up by evidence, with NBNCo's current cost for FTTC being somewhere over $3000/residence in 2019[1].

Additionally, because there's now FTTP, FTTN, FTTC, HFC, Fixed-Wireless and Satellite - the whole network is harder to manage and maintain. You need a bigger, more widely trained workforce, you have more equipment to maintain, and more vendors to deal with.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_National_Broadb...

[1] https://www.itnews.com.au/news/nbn-cos-actual-cost-per-premi...


Fiber isn't rolled out in a uniform grid pattern across the country, so population density is irrelevant.

We are one of the most urbanized countries in the world, more so than many who have rolled out fiber.


Agreed. As per the HN guidelines:

> Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle

HN is a great place for considered discussion. Let's keep it that way.


To be fair, it's a true statement. The NBN is shithouse and compared to what was promised originally, it could be considered fake.


This is the part that is questionable:

> our far-right government, which loathes and fears any technology more recent than coal & witch burning.


Let sleeping dogs lie, is my advice here.


Yes, let's do that please. The tone wasn't right for HN.


If you live in Australia you would probably agree that thats not far from the truth either.


I live in Australia and most people I know would disagree with that statement. Depends on your social circles.


As an outsider I don't have much insight to Australian politics, but all I've read about recently is their stance on fossil fuels and encryption. Based on that, from an outside perspective, I'd be very inclined to agree with that statement. Out of curiosity, in what ways is it untrue?


Fair point.


It was a bit of snark not to be taken too seriously, though with regard to the trogs' fear of technology, it has more than a grain of truth ;)


To the person with the "dead" reply musing about Stephen Conroy being a luddite—I wrote that April fools parody article. Yes, Conroy started off as an embarrassing luddite __BUT__ unlike the luddites that came before him, he improved. He learned. He grew. He surrounded himself with smart, experienced and informed people, and he learned from them. By the time he departed that role he had morphed into perhaps the best communications ministers in recent Australian history.

---------

Whereas you can watch the moment of television where all respect I had for Malcolm Turnbull crashed into the floor (fast forward to the 17 minute mark and watch for about one minute):

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-12/nbn-debate/4882232

"Anthony said that fibre to the premises can deliver one gigabit per second, 1000 megs, and you're quite right, it can. Do you know what it would cost to have a guaranteed one gig' service? At least $20,000 a month."

So basically Turnbull used a deceptive truth (the cost of a high speed service with dedicated guaranteed backhaul) to blatantly and intentionally lie about the cost of gigabit services that would be sold to 99.9% of NBN-connected customers. The fact that he knew enough to concoct this deception made me realise that he wasn't just as bad as the rest of them, he's worse. He used his knowledge and intelligence to cleverly and carefully craft a statement that's blatantly false yet defensible as technically true if he were caught out. Nobody is that clever by accident.


For some people, 4G is definitely better than NBN. Not all people.

I’m not saying the NBN isn’t a trash fire of an infrastructure project (it is), or that our 4G is bad (it isn’t), but at least for me I get rock solid 100/40 on HFC, which is for sure better than my NBN service in inner-North Melbourne


Yes of course you're right. In a way that's the big problem with the NBN - a 'national infrastructure' project that is a complete lottery regarding what you get is not worth the name.

40 odd km from me there are estates wired up with NBN's original FTTP. Yet in my location, all that's available is the hopeless Sky Muster satellite service, which tends to go offline for days at a time, and has trouble with weird contingencies like rain. It was originally slated as a last-ditch option for people in truly remote areas, but the hapless NBN Co has gradually extended its use to anywhere they can't be arsed to serve properly.

[Edit: as a side note, my location shows the corporate fakery behind the 'mixed tech' model. Using a cheap 4g modem from ebay, and without even so much as a fixed antenna, I can get 60Mbps down with 4g. Yet NBNCo doesn't make the fixed wireless option available here, instead foisting on us the 'outback solution' of satellite with its 600ms ping times, pitiful data caps & unreliability]


It's interesting, becusee I moved from FTTC getting 100/40 to HFC and still getting 100/40.

Each technology has their own hardware faults though, and I've witnessed both. But as a user of the service, I'm actually surprised how decent HFC has been working.

My parents of FTTN get about 50/20,which is what I expect a lot of users on these lines would only be able to access. But the sheer cost of using a NBN over 4G makes it a lot easier to sell, data sims are not cheap


What about your latency? - Ive tested FTTP and got around 3ms to 8.8.8.8 but hfc its around 30+ Any idea what FTTC would be?


Getting ~20ms on HFC, with 12ms to our BNGv(first hop)

I no longer have a FTTC connection to test, but I don't think it's 3ms low.

Using AussieBB. It's around 20ms from Sydney to Melbourne on our routes


Yeah I'm going with Aussie too.


I grew up rural. First internet connection I used at home was a 14.4k connection through my dad's Startac. I used to have to put a rubber band on the connector to keep it properly plugged into the phone for data. Eventually we got a 1Mpbs microwave connection from a local WISP. It was a huge improvement in a lot of ways but the latency was terrible and very jittery.

Now when I go back to my parent's house I get 10+ Mbps 4G on Verizon and Tmobile. It's awesome.


Are you affected by weather? Do you use a directional antenna?


I don't need an antenna - I get a good enough signal with my modem stashed in the rafters. I'm about 12km from a 4g tower, but it's up on a decent hill which is nearly line of sight.

I did have to go through a few modems to find one that worked reliably. Oddly enough, an old Huawei B315s has turned out to be by far the best for my situation. I've tried fancier models that multiplex radio bands, but they were slower and less reliable.

Weather seems to have little to no effect. What does sometimes cause a problem is tourist influxes to the nearest town. The occasional big weekend event can bring speeds down to 12Mbps or so. Still, I'm not complaining and consider ubiquitous internet availability a kind of modern miracle.


NBN ?


It is an acronym for the National Broadband Network. A government owned enterprise which was supposed to build a ubiquitous broadband network covering Australia but has been plagued with political meddling and interference since the get-go.


My residence now has NBN as an option. I have decided to wait a year or two. Going for NBN is a bit of a gamble. My OK-ish ADSL connection is finally working without interruptions, and on forums people with NBN are talking about resetting their modem several times a day, coaxial cable connections need to be perfect otherwise it doesn't work etc. Sad really to miss out, but I am prioritizing uptime over speed. The UK got this right in the late 90's by connecting cable to almost every residence (IIRC).


Errr... our government isn’t far right, and the disaster of the nbn was created by the left, and made worse by the right. The narrative being repeated in this and other left wing sites like reddit of “the nbn would have been good if it was all fiber” is just wrong.

The nbn from its conception was a half-baked, last minute idea made up by Kevin Rudd. If any public network was needed, it should have been wireless. The nbn discounted any possible future that resulted in wireless being a viable way of delivering the internet to everyone. Wireless is also necessary because things aren’t stationary. Cars can’t use fiber internet, for example. Fiber to every home is ridiculously expensive, with a large percentage of homes not even using any more bandwidth than is required to stream Netflix. Fiber also excludes rural areas, and any lower density areas in general.

A public wireless network would be utilised much more, as even a lower speed wireless network that is available everywhere and cheaper opens up more possibilities than a limited high speed network. It isn’t just speed that is important. We also have the issue of data caps. High speed connections that have 20gb per month data caps are pretty useless, yet a large percentage of the population can’t afford any more than that. The nbn, whether fiber or not, would always just result in a product a large percentage of normal people couldn’t even utilise.

The liberal party made the nbn worse, but it was a terrible idea to begin with. All the political parties are corrupt.


>If any public network was needed, it should have been wireless.

I don't believe the rural NBN customers on Wireless Satellite technology would support this premise.

Even customers in suburban shopping centres struggle with their cellular connection - hence Free Wifi being so ubiquitous.

But regardless, our conservative government relies on minerals and education rather than investing in Australia's ability to compete in a digital world.

So here's hoping we can keep up with developed nations who are making use of the high-bandwidth infrastructure made available to them today.


> the disaster of the nbn was created by the left, and made worse by the right

The left proposed an NBN based on 'fiber to the home' technology.

The right threw out that plan and replaced it with 'fiber to the node and copper to the home' technology.

Now it is hard to say if the NBN proposed by the left would have been a disaster as it was only rolled out to a few place. But being fiber based it would at least have been future proofed.

However, now that the most of the money has been spent and the NBN copper system is nearing completion, we are seeing that the NBN as it now stands is a total disaster.

It is already obsolete before it is complete.


> Now it is hard to say if the NBN proposed by the left would have been a disaster as it was only rolled out to a few place.

Can people not see and pros/cons based on suburbs that have fttp/ftth?

You can do the same with fttn based on some suburbs - where people who have paid for 100Mbps end up only getting 20Mbps during peak hour


I've found that 3G in Beatty, Nevada is faster than 4G in Pasadena, California.

(The downside is that you have to live in Beatty, Nevada. ;))

I've noticed these kinds of discrepancies every time I leave a major city. I don't trust the G anymore. It's all either really good, or really terrible from mile to mile regardless of how it's branded.


A city street in Beatty is faster than a 8-lane highway in LA


I've always considered "#G" to be just a marketing term, and therefore largely meaningless.


It absolutely is.

I worked at a Telco that installed extremely old hardware, but because it was theoretically capable of achieving speeds that were similar to the low-end of 3G, they branded and marketed it as 3G.

Marketing loved it.

When you pulled out your phone it clearly said "2G" on the screen, but you were paying for 3G.


I'm assuming this is a case of unusually slow 4G, and not fast 3G? I travel frequently and I've noticed that sometimes my 4G speeds are very slow even when I have good signal strength, always in rural areas. I'm not sure what explains that.


The mast that your phone communicates with doesn't always have lots of fiber bandwidth. Sometimes it's only connected to other masts using microwave links (which could be outdated).


"The United States, meanwhile, enjoyed a 5G maximum speed of 1815Mbps – about three times as fast as 4G users’ maximum speed."

This report seems to be lacking a reality check. (Is it practically possible to get ~600 Mbps from LTE? Exotic bundles like LTE MIMO don't really count unless they're actually offered as part of regular plans.)


You pretty much need a direct line-of-sight to the 5G tower, without trees in the way, or clouds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CTUs_2hq6Y


That video had so much bullshit I had to stop. 1ms ping? Get a clue dumbass. Physics.


Can you explain why 1ms ping is not possible because of physics? Otherwise this comment comes off as rather rude and unhelpful.


Sorry - I did not attempt to come off as rude or unhelpful.

My point is his comparison of 14ms against his expectation of 1ms. That is not realistic, given the use-case being a speed test to [semi-random] provider.

There is a physical limit in play in these scenarios - being the speed of light in a vacuum and light refraction index (fiber). Simply assuming that due to the fact that 4G is "becoming" 5G you should see an order of magnitude less latency (1ms vs 14ms) is in my view, from a physics perspective, silly.

Even including the RAN (Radio Access Network), the majority of said latency to and from the throughput server endpoint is most likely NOT the result of delay on the RAN, but rather the physical distance (proximity) from the mobile station (MS, smartphone/handset).


I bet he doesn't understand that 5G in the millimeter wave bands will have an effective coverage radius of about that of a street light. At those tiny distances 1ms is possible.

But not implemented. ALL current "5G" networks are 5G non-standalone in which 4G does all registiration with the basestation and most of the work. 5G is just a bit of extra data channel on top.


Speed of light is about 300km per ms, which is a bit larger than a typical street light covers. I think we're going to need a few more divisors to get 300km down to 30m.


Network latency is limited by the speed of light.


Yes but the speed of light is very fast. Light can travel nearly 200 miles in one millisecond.


Correct, light travels at 186 miles per millisecond, but virtually nothing we have can actually transfer a single packet anywhere near light speed. Take two high end expensive network cards with fiber SFP+ connectors and connect them with just 1 meter of cable, and I very highly doubt you’ll get a ping time of under 0.1ms. And that’s just 1 meter! If speed of light was the limiting factor, that should be down in the nanosecond region.


I hate to be that guy but I have done that test and the latency is under 30 us or 0.03 ms.


I meant to say 0.01ms :(

(Hence why my later part of the comment references “nanosecond region”)

Thanks for calling it out!

Edit:

To say my original post another way, about the fastest I’ve ever seen for a ping time is ten microseconds over a one meter fiber optic cable. That’s 3,000x slower than the speed of light. Fiber optic cable is far more efficient than a Point-To-Multipoint radio which is in a noisy environment (aka cellular), so to think you’ll get within 2 orders of magnitude using 5G vs the best fiber speeds I’ve seen seems crazy to me.


Please explain how 5G would overcome the obstacles to 1ms ping better than 4G. Higher bandwidth does not reduce latency for minuscule packets with low contention.


At the 30.72 MS/s rate, 2k FFT size, 1201 subcarriers occupied per FFT, QAM256 on each subcarrier, 4x4 MIMO, you get ~576Mbps max throughput (pure number of bits transferred per second). This ignores encoding, cyclic prefix, and all the other overheads associated with the LTE protocol.


So I guess that's where the article author got the "LTE speed". It was probably from some aussie mobile operator's "theoretical maximum speed" number or similar.


there's also carrier aggregation, you could multiply that throughput by the number of carrier components provided by the telco (rarely more than 2 or 3).


Yes, it is possible to get 600Mbps from LTE, but you need lots of mid-band spectrum - the US operators are quite challenged in that respect, plus CPE capable of carrier aggregation + higher MIMO ('flagship' smartphones generally).

This article provides a good overview of how the Telstra deployment works: https://cellularinsights.com/telstras-gigabit-class-lte-netw...


I wish they wouldn't just use '4G' and '5G' as if they were one concrete thing. List the actual individual protocols.

Sprint use to offer 4G in the United States that was Wi-Max based, but now almost all 4G is LTE. In Australia there was a Wi-Max provider (Vivi Wireless) but on a different frequency than the US and only via hot-spots (no phone support, that I know of).

Is 4G for all these reports LTE? What exactly is 5G in all these contexts? Are we talking about the same protocol, or another collection of protocols expected to have x speed at y range?


AFAIK NR is the only 5G protocol.

Exposing protocol details to consumers when those details do not correlate with performance is likely to just cause confusion.


NR is the only 5G protocol (aside from Verizon's abortive proprietary 5G TF), but it couldn't hurt to at least specify if the spectrum being used is sub-6 or mmWave. This factor (700--3500 Mhz vs 26, 28, 39 GHz) is going to have the largest impact by far on the experience in terms of the bandwidth/coverage tradeoff.

When it comes to discussing these two distinct clusters of spectrum, the difference is so stark that we might as well be talking about different protocols.

5G and 5G pro?...


But the 4G, 5G monikers don't correlate either.


In the US at least almost all 4G is LTE. Sometimes I'll see mine drop to HSPA, but rarely.


4G is plenty fast enough. The next tangible leap has got to be unlimited data. Is that something 5G might help with?

Recently moving back to Australia after a year living in Finland, I really miss unlimited 300Mbit/sec 4G for 25€/month (~$40 AUD).

It's well and good that our mobile networks are as good as the Finns (anecdotally), speed and reliability wise (whoops, as long as you dodge Telstra outages). Sure there are a couple of 'unlimited' plans popping up in Australia now, but it's more like 'trickle at 1.5Mbit/sec when you use up your allowance'. Like a lot of things, I think Australia would do well to copy-paste what the Finns are doing. Education, telecoms, energy, well-being, ... for our post-coal economy we'd do well to learn it and scale it.


Optus have offered a 5g plan that I think is unlimited - its only available in a very small footprint though while they continue to roll it out.

I moved back from the Netherlands a few years ago. I'm awaiting the NBN at my place in the next few weeks hopefully. Then I will be able to get the same connection that I had in Amsterdam in 2011. This is after the government has spent $50bil+ on the NBN - go Australia!


Oh, it's happening! That's fantastic.

Good luck with the NBN lottery! In inner-city Brisbane I'm lucky to have NBN and non-NBN fibre options. But I would cancel fixed fibre in a heartbeat for unlimited 5G if it meant only taking a bandwidth hit.


> 4G is plenty fast enough.

It's fast, but it's not cheap compared to landline. Unless you use a absurdly high frequency that probably won't work in most of Australia, 5G won't be much faster for the individual user. However MIMO does up the cell capacity, so it will probably be cheaper. That's not a small thing.


I remember when I got an early 4G phone on Verizon (I think it was a Droid something or other).

It was INSANELY fast. Presumably because I was one of the few folks on it and Verizon had built out all the towers and bandwidth was ready for growth.

As time passed the performance suffered, granted 4G seems plenty for me most of the time.


Don't forget bloat. Back in the 3G days no one would wait for your 50MB website to load. But once 4G became commonplace, what's the harm in adding another 10MB of assets?

Basically, as an early adopter you were a 4G user visiting the 3G web. But now it's the 4G web.


It still is insanely fast, from my perspective. I get at least 50 Mbps down, which is just crazy which you think about the fact that it's a low power handheld device. Enough to stream 4k video, if I wanted to (I don't). More than enough to load even the absurdly large web framework of the month in less than a second. I can't see ever wanting faster Internet on my phone.


Providers in Lithuania now sell mobile broadband. We’ve got one for a marina with 60 boats and 8 cameras. They setup little router with a bit more serious antenna. We get ~130/30 for €25 per month - all actually unlimited data.


The purpose of 5G isn't to deliver faster speed to an individual end point. It's to add more capacity to a single cell site. Marketing will continue to lie with their "up to" promises but don't expect to reap any significant gains from the latest radio tech.


If the cell site has more capacity but a similar number of customers, would those customers not get more throughput?


LTE seems plenty fast enough for typical phone usage. Not sure how much 5G will improve mobile experience in the near future without massive advances in VR.

Is all this telecom positioning to setup a replacement for landline internet service?


Yes. Many consumers will like it because there's no need for a modem or router.

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile/Sprint are all working on vertically integrating to provide phone service, 5G, and streaming content options.

Comcast is now in the cell phone business, and owns NBC and Universal. T-Mobile (soon to be merged with Sprint) bought Layer3 and is now in the TV business.

AT&T owns Warner Brothers and HBO. Verizon will likely follow suit.

No coax cables. No modems. Just streaming content over 5G, via oligopolistic walled gardens.


It still doesn't make sense to me. My 4G is fast, faster than home internet often. The reason I don't use it at home is it the cost of data, not speed. Unless 5g lowers the data cost, I don't see any benefit.


From what I have read about T-Mobile's home internet pilot, the pricing might be similar to a cable modem and the service will be geo-restricted to a subscriber location. This makes sense, as they can do more efficient capacity planning when they know that the bulk-consumers will be at fixed locations.

It will be interesting to see what kind of price-bundling options they might offer, if any, to combine this fixed wireless subscription with a mobile phone subscription.


It also doesn't make sense from a security perspective, as it eliminates having an external firewall.


I'm not sure I understand the idea. How is my laptop or desktop going to get internet access this way? Am I going to have to buy a PCI card or USB antenna for each computer? Right now I get 100 Mbps down with no data cap via a cable provider. Trading for a system with antennas on every device , lower speeds, and probably metered sounds like one hell of a downgrade.


4G router, works exactly the same as what you have now.


Well, right, that's what I would have assumed. But parent said the reason consumers like the idea of wireless is that you don't need a modem or router, that's what I found confusing about it.


There's already a lot of 4G enabled notebooks and tablets, and basically all phones. I could easily see that eating 80% of the market. 60% or more of web traffic is already on mobile devices, so the only question is whether 5G will become a standard feature for new notebooks.

Sure, you could buy a 4G/5G router, but for average consumers that may be a thing of the past. At least, that seems to be the direction that every major player in every relevant industry is gearing up for.


5G can handle more devices being connected. All those smart things that want to phone home. It's likely 5G will let many more devices be connected and phoning home without using our personal internet connections.

I wonder what it would look like for my TV to be connected and sending my viewing habits back to the manufacturer without a method for me to turn it off. 5G makes this idea much easier.

Phone companies can get contracts with all these device manufacturers and make money that way.


I wonder what it would look like for my TV to be connected and sending my viewing habits back to the manufacturer without a method for me to turn it off.

If you have cable, satellite, or streaming this already happens. The only way to watch TV without being watched is to use an antenna or local storage.


It depends on who is watching. For example, if I am watching Netflix I expect them to know what I watched. But, would I expect my TV (the visual device) to know what I watched and report back to the TV manufacturer? I can choose to not connect my TV to the Internet or use something like Pie Hole to stop that device from reporting. If the TV used the cell network how would I stop the TV from reporting?


> The only way to watch TV without being watched is to use an antenna or local storage.

Pi-hole[1] might still help at the moment, until the TVs start coming with their own SIM cards.

In any case, I wouldn't use a TV as anything more than an extra large monitor for Raspberry Pi running something like Kodi[2].

[1] https://pi-hole.net/

[2] https://kodi.tv/


It's likely 5G will let many more devices be connected and phoning home without using our personal internet connections.

There's no way this can be cheaper, especially in the US where carriers are currently charging $10-20 per device per month. I can imagine a dystopian future where device vendors think "x% of people can't figure out how to connect to their own WiFi, so let's ship a 5G radio with Verizon eSIM instead and make up the extra cost with more privacy-invading ads" but I'm going to ragequit the Internet if that happens.


If you look up the pricing of M2M SIM cards, the monthly per-SIM cost is more on the order of $1/mo. Of course the bandwidth prices are straight out of 2005, but these are only meant for phoning home with a couple bytes of data now and then.


Maybe they could optimize by turning off (and not paying for) cellular when WiFi is available.

Seems disgustingly plausible, tbh.


Maybe then someone smart would come up with a device that would route all 5G traffic through and broadcast to other devices, masking the source and even proxied through a remote server /s


So in the future hacker TVs will be covered with tin foil on the back?


I need a firewall for my house to let 5G signals thru.


Those are devices I simply will not purchase, for obvious reasons.


Should be noted that one stated advantage of 5G over 4G is latency, which is certainly a component of determining what is “faster.”


Pointless didactics, but latency determines who is quicker, not faster :)

Medium (wireless vs copper vs fiber) defines who is faster.


People are actually demanding 5G? (Or is that hype, trying to make people think that other people are demanding it?)

I can only think of one conversation I've had in which 5G was even mentioned, but boy, I know people here in rural Canada would like affordable data plans, and I don't see that 5G is going to help at all.


Urban Canada needs affordable data too. We have the most expensive telco in the world, across the board.


I think it's got a decent chance to leapfrog VDSL for last mile in many places (as is already case with 4G in more advanced places).


This is where marketing and confusion can come in. There is what the technology is capable of and then the network backing it. For example, where I live I get a fraction of what 4G can provide. The reason is the cell phone providers network. I could get far faster speeds out of 4G if the providers provided it.

5G has some positives and negatives over 4G. For example, 5G frequencies interfere with the detection of water vapor for weather forecasts, are hyper local so lower latency but need to have towers in every neighborhood, can handle more devices connected (so all the hardware reporting back to manufacturers and others can phone home), and has the potential for faster speeds.

In theory, 5G is faster than 4G. In practice, I'm not likely to see the faster and I don't need it for my day to day activity.


>get a fraction of what 4G can provide

Providers love to boast about max speeds, but the reality is every device under a base station shares the total capacity, more devices means competition and slower speeds.


I thought the reason we get a fraction of the theoretical is because so many phones compete? And with more numerous and shorter range towers there will be less competition, so we'll get closer to theoretical speed.


Introducing some gaussian noise might actually improve the accuracy of weather predictions.


5G is just a protocol. It'll be rolled out on low band frequencies because it is more efficient than LTE, but re-farming spectrum is a big deal so they're going to roll it out on high band frequencies first.


Bridges are just to enable people to cross a gap. But, can we separate what something is from where and how it's being setup to be used and who controls that for what purposes? Technology provides a solution. But, what are the problems and intended uses.

If we don't look at the bigger picture we can't look at the wider impacts, the ethics, or any of that. This is something I learned in engineering ethics. It was a required class at my university for engineers for a reason.


I thought 5G and 4G are both LTE?


No, 5G is a new standard. It's kinda confusing because there are so many standards, 3G, 3.5G, 3.95G, 4G etc.


It’s also hella confusing because there’s not a marketing or real protocol name attached beyond the “5G” moniker, at least not that I could easily find.

I can name GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSPA, 1xRTT, EVDO, WiMAX, and LTE off the top of my head and tell you what “G” they are associated with (1, 2, 3, 3.5, 2, 3, 4, 4 respectively).

5G is a vaporous term with no real definition right now other than “whatever the fuck the ITU has decided to call 5G”.

EDIT: I guess they’re calling the air interface “5G NR (New Radio)”. How memorable. Guess with everyone finally getting on the same page with LTE in the current generation they felt no need to come up with a real name.


Related question: what exactly is the LT in LTE supposed to mean? What's considered "long-term" here? Been confused to see 5G coming out already when 4G was supposed to be long-term.


The 5G protocol is literally named "New Radio"; if they aren't going to put much thought in to the names I'm not going to put any thought into analyzing them.


It's not "long term" in "this technology will exist for a long time" but rather "it will take a long time to get this technology fully rolled out".

Carriers started releasing what they called "4G" networks, but those networks did not meet the standards required to call it 4G. So they came up with LTE because it's a long-term evolution of 3G service, evolving until it meets the standards for 4G.


Wow, you just blew my mind, thanks. So what is "true" 4G here? Is it LTE-A? Or does it not even exist? All this time I used to think the "fake" 4G (3.9G?) was HSPA and the "real" one was LTE and that LTE-A went beyond that, but now I'm not sure what's what anymore!


4G requires data rates of 100mbps while moving and 1Gbps while stationary. LTE-A only hits 300Mbps, but the ITU eventually gave up fighting it and now calls LTE-A officially "4G" even though it doesn't meet the original standard.

http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2010/48.as...


In retrospect this is evidence that sometimes setting ridiculously ambitious goals isn't enough to make them happen. IMO a new generation per decade is a good pace but 10x per decade is a lot more reasonable than 100x.


In Australia cost of 4G has been the limiting factor, not speed. But now we can get 200gb per month for $40 [0] which makes me wonder weather the NBN was worth it.

[0] https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/06/mobile-broadband-vs-ho...


>which makes me wonder weather the NBN was worth it.

Yes, the original NBN plan was definitely worth it. Even the current NBN plan is still in many cases going to be better.

The reason <choose wireless technology> is "faster" than <choose NBN connection option> is because there's a lower density of people using it for higher bandwidth applications.

Do you remember the 3G networks in Australia before the iPhone 3G launch? It was fantastic and fast, and there were some unlimited plans but few phones that could make use of it. Then the iPhone comes along, everyone suddenly every mobile network grinds to a halt as they don't have a high enough tower density and/or not enough tower backhaul.

It took Vodafone and Optus a long long time to fully recover from that.

If carriers don't carefully manage demand, they're going to run into major congestion issues - their networks just can't handle a significant shift of data from wired to wireless.


And here I am in the Pacific Northwest, remembering how insanely fast LTE felt like a few years back, but now it’s awful in my area (used to consistently get >50mbps). Now LTE often means that my phone has a connection of ~3mbps... Is it just T-mobile, or is this just normal levels of congestion?


Anyone know of a dirt cheap 3G-only plan in the USA? I saw some in Europe and its just what I need really.


Not in the US but in France I have a 5€/month plan that includes unlimited calls/sms/mms and 40GB of data either in 3G or 4G (after that I still got access to Internet but the bandwidth is supposed to be reduced, I never got there). It also includes unlimited calls and sms from EU countries (+ a few others) to French numbers, and 3GB of data in 3G or 4G usable in those countries if I travel.

I guess there may be cheap plans like this that you could use. It's generally operated by MVNOs [1], you could look for those.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_virtual_network_operato...


I use Ting wireless for a home made cellphone project. It costs me about $14/mo


I used redpocket.com for a plan for my Nokia 3310 3G. I think it was $10 a month.


How do you like the Nokia 3310 3G? Have been tempted to buy one of those (or the 8110 4G bananaphone), main hesitation is around losing Signal and maps(?) though I understand there are ways to sideload an old version of Google Maps to the 3310.


I loved it. I was so free. Unfortunately I had to go back to a smartphone in order to monitor security cameras and my Simplisafe alarm system at my new business. I wish I could go back.


Probably because Telstra 5G is currently using the same spectrum as 4G.

Telstra 5G 2019: 3.5GHz

Telstra 5G planned future: 26 - 28GHz


This is a clickbait title. Their 5G network is worse than their 4G network. Their 4G network is not faster than 5G in general.


Their 4G beats a lot of other countries 5G. But yes theoretically 5G is a lot better and generally should be faster. It’s also got other capabilities like support for higher density (devices per sq km)


Australian density is significantly less than Asia. In China FWIW on typical mobile devices I often observe connectivity issues with planes landing, trains moving and so forth. Especially near borders (HK/Macau).


For me, the exciting part of 5G is the connection density.

The estimated density for a 4G network is: 4,000 devices / km^2.

The estimated density for a 5G network is: 1,000,000 devices / km^2.

The density means we can scale up machine <-> machine interactions significantly, rather than focus on human <-> machine interactions that we have today.


While I don’t know the exact numbers for 5G, those numbers are way way way off (on the high side) for 4G and I highly suspect are more than an order of magnitude on 5G, if not more.


Wikipedia said 4G (LTE) supports 100,000 people per sq km whereas 5G up to a million.


Same in India 4G was slower than 3G in the beginning


Prob not using 5Gs fastest modes


Australias 4G is 3Gpp and their 4G plus is 4G,

I dont know what their 5G is bit I suspect it is not 5G




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